This Underrated State Park Is Just Like Acadia Without Crowds And Arguably Better Hikes

If you love the forests, cliffs, and magnificent hiking trails of Maine's Acadia National Park but long to get deeper into nature, Baxter State Park might be the perfect place for your next wilderness adventure. Acadia is undoubtedly one of the best national parks on islands and beaches, but it has also been designed to make it a fun and accessible visit for all, regardless of your physical abilities and fitness level. That means nearby shops, lodges to stay in, and paved routes to take around the park and admire the scenery from your car window. However, if you're looking for a more rugged experience hiking in the wilds of Maine without the crowds, head inland to Baxter.


"This is how every park should be: wild, untrammeled, not a lot of concessions to comfort," one Baxter visitor stated on Tripadvisor. "Bring your own food and water and prepare for no cell service. So many moose sightings! Fabulous hikes to summits and waterfalls and in the deep forest. The ponds are very very peaceful."

Baxter State Park encompasses 209,644 acres of wilderness and has more than 220 miles of hiking trails to explore. The most popular of these are found on and around Katahdin, the tallest mountain peak in Maine, but if you want even more seclusion, you should explore the rest of the park's trails, where you and your hiking buddies can be completely alone in nature.

The best hiking trails in Baxter State Park

Many U.S. National Parks have trails that are only for experienced hikers, and state parks are no different. Baxter has no shortage of tricky trails and treacherous treks to challenge you and reward you with outstanding views, but there are good routes for people who want to experience the natural beauty of Baxter without committing to a difficult hike. One beautiful option is Little and Big Niagara Falls. While you might not be up for more than 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail, you can enjoy this little 2-mile segment while following the rushing river to the falls.


For a longer and more challenging hike, try out Chimney Pond Trail. With the exception of a few tough scrambles, the route is peaceful and provides incredible views of misty forests and meandering creeks. If you really want to test yourself, you might want to consider Mount Katahdin's Baxter Peak via Hunt Trail. This strenuous hike is not to be underestimated as it culminates in a section so steep that it can be called rock climbing. If you can manage the journey, however, you'll be treated to a view from the rocky peak among the clouds.

Spotting wildlife in the park

Whether exploring Baxter State Park alone (review our safety tips for solo hikers) or with loved ones, an incredible natural world awaits you. Look at the ground beneath your feet to see the many species of wildflowers that bloom in the park, look to the skies above your head to spot birds like bald eagles soaring, and keep your eyes fixed on the woodlands around you — you might just see a moose.


If you've spent the day hiking and haven't encountered a moose, try heading to the viewing areas at Sandy Stream Pond or Stump Pond, where you'll likely to see one of these beautiful 1,600-pound creatures. If there are too many people there for your (or the moose's) taste, try Dwelley, Elbow, Grassy, or Kidney Pond. If you're very quiet as you move through the wilderness, you might even spot a black bear — but they mostly keep to themselves.